Cummins sponsors “design and innovation challenge” at Purdue Polytechnic

Photo provided The Accelera by Cummins logo shown on a vehicle.

A local employer is sponsoring an event where local students will present prototypes in the hopes of earning both good grades and scholarships.

Students from the Purdue University Polytechnic Institute of Columbus will participate in the first-ever Accelera by Cummins Design and Innovation Challenge from 6-9 p.m. Monday at the Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence. Members of the public are welcome to attend.

“This event aims to bring together our brightest and most creative minds to tackle real-world engineering and design challenges, fostering the development of innovative solutions and providing a platform for students to showcase their skills and ideas,” said Nancy Lollar, director of Purdue Polytechnic Columbus.

Cummins, Inc, sponsor for the event, is providing $10,000 in scholarships, which will be awarded as follows:

  • First Prize Scholarship: $5,200
  • Second Prize Scholarship: $3,200
  • Crowd Favorite Scholarship: $1,600

Five student teams from the local campus, all enrolled in the required freshman-level course “Design Thinking in Technology,” will compete for these awards, Lollar said. She described the event as both the students’ last class in the course and their final.

During the semester, the groups have developed different projects, which have largely been kept secret leading up to the big reveal.

“It’s really honing in on the students’ innovation and creativity and encourages the pursuit of implementation,” Lollar said. “And so really trying to find solutions to significant problems and encourage students and their team members to really contribute and work together.”

Each team also had to create a prototype of their idea, with these being made on 3-D printers, she said.

From 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday, each group will have 15 minutes to present their project in front of a panel of judges from Cummins. Awards will be presented around 8:30 p.m. For groups that receive scholarships, the funds will be distributed evenly between students.

Lollar said that the institute hopes to make the Accelera by Cummins Design and Innovation Challenge a recurring event, with Cummins potentially developing a design idea or topic for students to address at next year’s challenge that has “more real-world application.”

She added that the competition could provide a forum for students to consider ideas that further the company’s decarbonization and hydrogen energy initiatives. Accelera by Cummins is the company’s clean energy technology brand.

“We’re hoping to keep that same name and even potentially (expand) with our statewide campuses but also with the airpark campus, because Ivy Tech and IUPUC, they each have a class within their engineering program that is very similar to this,” Lollar said. “And there’s also possible collaboration for next year, even having maybe a competition amongst the other campuses to allow other, more involvement, more students and more ideas to kind of come to the table.”

If you go

What: Accelera by Cummins Design and Innovation Challenge

When: 6-9 p.m. on Monday

Where: Room 140 in the Advanced Center of Manufacturing Excellence, 4444 Kelly St., Columbus.